CD4 count and viral load
If someone has been infected with HIV, they’ll want to know two things: their CD4 count and their viral load. These values give important information to them and to their health care provider on:
- the health of their immune system
- the progression of HIV in their body
- how their body responds to HIV therapy
- how the virus itself responds to HIV therapy
What is a CD4 count?
A CD4 count is a blood test to determine how many CD4 cells in the body are present. CD4 cells are white blood cells of a type (WBC). They play an important part in the immune system. They alert other immune cells to the presence of bacterial infections and other viruses in the body. CD4 cells also form a group of immune cells known as T cells.
If a person is infected with HIV, CD4 cells in their blood are targeted by the virus. This mechanism destroys CD4 cells and causes them to drop in number in the body, making it difficult to combat infections.
The CD4 counts show immune system robustness. According to HIV.gov, a balanced immune system typically has a CD4 count ranging from 500 to 1,600 cells per cubic millimetre of blood (cells / mm3).
A person is diagnosed with AIDS when a CD4 count is below 200 cells / mm3. AIDS happens during HIV stage 3. The body’s immune system is poor at this point because of the small number of CD4 cells available to combat disease.
What is a viral load?
The HIV viral load check tests the amount of HIV particles in blood in a milliliter (mL). These particles are also called “copies,” and the test evaluates the progression of HIV in the body. It is also helpful to see how well a person’s HIV treatment in their body regulates HIV.
A high viral load may indicate a recent untreated or uncontrolled transmission of HIV, or HIV. For a period right after contracting HIV, viral loads are generally the highest. They decrease as the body’s immune system fights against HIV but then rise again as CD4 cells die off over time.
A viral load, particularly when the virus is first contracted, can include millions of copies per mL of blood.
A low viral charge means that there are relatively few copies of HIV in the blood. If an HIV treatment plan is successful, a person can maintain a lower viral load.
What’s the relationship between the two?
There is no direct relation between the count of CD4 and viral load. A high CD4 count and a low — or undetectable — viral load are thus typically desirable. The higher the number of CD4s the stronger the immune system. The lower the viral load, the more likely an HIV treatment would work.
When HIV invades healthy CD4 cells, they are converted into factories before being killed to produce new copies of HIV. If HIV remains untreated, the number of CD4s decreases, and the viral load increases.
How often might someone be tested?
A health care provider is likely to perform CD4 counts and viral load checks more often at the start of HIV therapy or with any drug adjustments. The majority of people infected with HIV will have laboratory tests conducted every three or four months.
Some patients will require more regular monitoring, for instance, those in their first two years of treatment or those whose viral load is not controlled. People who take regular medication or have sustained a suppressed viral load for over 2 years may need to undergo less frequent monitoring. They would only have to be checked twice a year.
Why is it important to get tested regularly?
A single test result for CD4 or viral load reflects just a snapshot in time. It is important to track all of these and take into account patterns in test results rather than looking at individual test results only.
Keep in mind that for many reasons, even during the day, certain values can differ. Daytime, certain infections, and recent vaccines can all affect the count of CD4 and the viral load. Unless the number of CD4s is very small, this fluctuation is usually not worrying.
Daily viral load tests are used, not CD4 counts, to assess the effectiveness of a person’s HIV therapy. When a person starts HIV therapy a health care provider may want to see how well their body reacts to HIV. HIV treatment is intended to reduce or eliminate the viral load to an undetectable level. HIV viral charge is usually undetectable below rates of 40 to 75 copies / mL, according to HIV.gov. The exact number is dependent on the laboratory which will analyze the tests.
Some people could get blips from it. These are transient increases in viral load, sometimes low. A health care worker should track the viral load closer to see whether it returns to an undetectable level without any therapy adjustments.
The detection of any drug resistance to the prescribed HIV therapy is another explanation for daily viral load tests. Maintaining a low viral load decreases the likelihood that therapy may develop resistance. A health care provider can use viral load tests to make possible changes to the HIV treatment regimen for a person.
Why is HIV therapy so important?
Antiretroviral or highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is also called HIV therapy. It consists of a combination of antiretroviral drugs. These are designed to prevent the virus from spreading all over the body by attacking different proteins or structures that the virus uses to replicate.
Antiretroviral therapy will render the viral load so small that a test can not detect it. That’s called viral load undetectable. Unless a person has an undetectable viral load or is virally suppressed, then their HIV is under control.
Starting HIV therapy as soon as you receive an HIV diagnosis allows a person to live a long, healthy life. Current United States treatment guidelines The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that an HIV-positive person start antiretroviral medications as soon as possible after diagnosis. This is important if opportunistic infections are to be that and HIV complications prevented.
Another advantage of getting HIV under control and having an undetectable viral load is that it helps prevent HIV transmission to other people. It is also known as avoidance counseling. HIV patients who take their recommended medications and maintain an undetectable viral load “effectively have no chance” of transmitting HIV to people without it.
There are benefits to keeping track of certain numbers, regardless of the level of HIV. In the last few years, therapy for HIV has come a long way. Following a recommended treatment plan and conducting a healthy lifestyle can help a person maintain a high CD4 count and a low viral load.
Effective treatment and successful care will help a person control his or her illness, reduce the risk of complications, and live a long and healthy life. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a solution for people who do not have HIV but are at very high risk of having HIV by taking a pill every day to avoid HIV infection. The pill (brand name tenvir) contains drugs (tenofovir), which are used to treat HIV in combination with other medicines. buy prep online at safe health online trusted pharmacy.